Beyond MOOCs: online learning and the personalized learning consortium

A conversation with Robert E. Cummings, Director of the Center for Writing and Rhetoric at the University of Mississippi, and Dr Sean Gallagher, the US Studies Centre at the University of Sydney

Co-presented with the Writing Hub, and the School of Letters, Art and Media in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

4 March 2014

Two years ago, global higher education was shaken up by the popularization of Massive Open Online Coursewares. Today much of the initial promise of xMOOCs has faded: most learners do not persist, many already hold a degree or are even educators, and the potential monetization of online education has dissipated. Yet this moment has also demonstrated an unforsesen and apparently limitless demand for interest-based education from unenrolled learners, untethered from the credit hour delivery model.

In this conversation, we will look at the lessons learned from xMOOCs, first by placing them in the context of the longer sweep of Open Educational Resources and then looking at the teaching and learning features that have made them so popular with the curious public across the globe. Then we will also examine some of the features of the evolving personalized learning approaches which have emerged in the wake of the xMOOC splash.

Associate Professor Robert Cummings


Associate Professor Robert E. Cummings directs the Center for Writing and Rhetoric at the University of Mississippi, and teaches composition, composition pedagogy, and courses exploring rhetoric and technology. Recent projects include Lazy Virtues: Teaching Writing in the Age of Wikipedia (2009) and Wiki Writing: Collaborative Learning in the College Classroom (2008).


Sean Gallagher



Sean Gallagher is the Chief Operating Officer of the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney where he is a Research Associate in American Higher Education. He is the co-author of a recent report Disruptive Education: Technology-Enabled Universities, that documents the technology-driven education experimentation now occurring.





Robert Cummings is in Australia as a US Senior Specialist in the field of OER, and his visit is supported by a grant awarded by the Australian-American Fulbright Commission.

Academic contact: Dr Frances Di Lauro, email